We Are Enough. We Are Deserving of Love.

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Today marks another day full of pure joy. The last three months have been a beautiful gift of ascension and old ways of being have been lifted. The emotional and spiritual work my soul has been waiting for has taught me so much. I feel free. I am no longer concerned about the why behind unknowns anymore because everything is connected. All of the struggle, lessons about where Spirit is waiting to be awakened. I now listen more versus tell, love versus get caught up in other’s gossip/opinions/beliefs and feel whole within. All of what I need to know can be found through self-trust and in trusting in something bigger than me, no-one else can provide that for me. It’s not my job to understand everything, it is my work to be a part of everything. The more we expand our inner-workings the more our outer world unites with us. We realize there is no disconnect. Mother Earth, Divine Source, any name you want to give the soul of this world, all of it is a part of the grander scheme.

Love risks everything and asks for nothing.

~Rumi

For the longest time, I thought love was supposed to be hard, but that’s not true. Love is the easiest thing in the world. Life isn’t meant to be suffering. We are brainwashed by fear when love is all that is there. The more we think is wrong the more we create what we don’t want and division. If we start focusing on what is right and what we do want our whole life opens up. We are love, instead of seeking love. Love cannot ever leave, abandon, or reject us. The more we fear the more love we push away. When we realize there is a spiritual side to life we start to dance with a higher frequency that works through and with us instead of against us. We need very little, scarcity is what keeps us clinging and abusing. Love allows us to start co-creating and co-existing.

Love said to me, there is nothing that is not me.

Be silent.

~Rumi

We live in a self-help nation. There are so many ideas about what we have to fix instead of what was never broken. We are told pleasure and passion exist in what is outside of us instead of built within us. No person, thing, achievement, adventure, or amount of money will mean anything if we aren’t in tune with our inner-being and a higher presence. We’ll constantly be craving instead of enjoying, self-absorbed instead of self-loving. I’m grateful for my healing and I choose to be healed. We’re so focused on what is right and wrong that we don’t give ourselves space to move on. To let go of what has no hold on us once we stop the fuss. It’s amazing how the second we embrace our flaws, is the second they no longer impact us.

Reason is powerless in the expression of love.

~Rumi

There is no reason to fight against what we don’t want, and instead, we can start making more of what we do want. Having faith and hope isn’t “crazy” it’s bravery. The greatest healing power isn’t out there it’s written in our energy, often in what we can’t explain or fully see. We can help others, sentient beings, nature, we can change the world, and we can heal ourselves. Not by fixating on what is wrong, but rather by being grateful for what is already abundantly available. There’s no fear or ego in what is already enough. I’m so happy to be where I am, who I am, and for every breath. Releasing fear, condemnation, control, unwanted entities, and limiting identities is how we are born again. I forgive myself and others. Has anyone ever told you that you are universal energy incarnate? No-one is lesser, greater, and life isn’t meant to be better later. Express your bliss, and don’t forget to be grateful that we even get to exist.

I searched for God and found only myself. I searched for myself and found only God.

~Rumi

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Love Always, All Ways

What is Worth Fighting For?

What gets you out of bed in the morning? What makes you feel alive and keeps you going? Some days it seems easier to give up the fight, other days the only thing we can do is dust off our boxing gloves and say bring it! Life isn’t about wallowing in our pain, or blaming the events in our lives. We have to keep going. Trust me, there have been days when I have wanted to throw in the towel, pull out the white flag and surrender. There is always more to discover, live for, and enjoy. Even if it seems like there is nothing left, hold on, keep up the battle. You’re here for a reason. You’re worth every bruise and bang up and know that everything is making you stronger, even what makes you feel weak. You already have all of the courage you seek!

Extra-Ordinary

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After planning my entire lifetime and keeping recordings of goals upon goals in notebooks and on my walls, I smile at the way things actually turn out. Instead of writing out a plan, I’m more prepared for the unplanned. From self-isolation/destruction to self-discovery, to unexpectedly falling in love, expecting to be in Africa for two years, finding a kitten as a best friend, and arriving back to where I started again; my goals seem absurd at best. Upon writing a novel about yoga’s impact on reactions, and fighting my own battles against mental health; timelines seem more and more out of line.

I learn that I can affirm greatness into my life as much as I want, but that contentment is more important than exclaiming manifestations. Enlightenment happens in small segments versus one time and one moment. That standardized tests and the next steps are mere systems set up to follow a path, and that the path itself isn’t as important as being a part of all of it. No matter the choice, something will be learned, and death will occur. Making all of the silly worries banal at best. The going towards specifics only a way of trying to control a destination that can be thrown off by any devastation.

It’s not in choosing the “right” path, but more of making the most out of whatever path one is currently on. None of it as important as society seems to lead on, we take too seriously what in an instant could be gone. More and more the small things are the meaningful things in their lack of greater meaning, and self-importance diminishes into self-actualization. I don’t need to pretend positive, be all-knowing, possess a high position, be well-known, achieve every goal (trust me I have a lot of goals), find the answers about the mysteries of life, or do anything in particular to live a fulfilling life.

My following and who I connect with doesn’t have to be specific or profound. We can connect with anyone on a human level without looking for any result or target group. It’s all about how we interpret all of it, and not trying to limit the way we create it. I don’t need to be smiling and high on life to be happy. I can be messy, cynical, awkward, goofy and ugly. My darkness a large part of the light I tirelessly try to amplify. It’s okay to be dim or have the occasional blackout. I’m finally okay with being just okay. More of us could be okay with the actuality versus the ideality. My gratitude expands to the simple things and in between things versus the “title” of dreams.

I’m alright with my struggles and they’ll continue. I can admit that I’m mundane and plain and completely flawed as any other. There is no great quest or achievement, and although I continue to learn and excel, my attention turns away from attachment to outcomes. I become more involved in the daily activities that end up mattering more than me mattering. The certainty that “ordinary” is more than necessary, that I’m fine with being as simple and still dimensional as can be; and that we are all growing into who we want or hope to be.

I’m even more astounded by morning coffee and cuddles, the friendships that mean the world to me, and the fact that I can do my laundry in a machine and not a bucket. The moments that stand out to me are often less than exceptional. The man I love staying on the phone with me while I was dry heaving and losing all of my bodily fluids, to wallowing in sadness/anger/frustration which became so absurd it transformed into laughter, to arriving back in the arms of those who were always there, and to being completely overcome by mistrust and fear. I’m glad those moments and those people were there regardless of the lackluster. Instead of looking towards a better, “north star”, why not be as imperfectly ordinary as we are?

~Gratitude Attitude Even For What Is Misconstrued~

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Reaction Revolution

We Are More Similar Than We Are Different

The past four months I was living in Malawi, Africa. I was on a conquest to better the lives of others through service. My eagerness to jump into something uncomfortable and different than my previous life was part of my motivation for being a Peace Corps volunteer. I wanted to help without having a “save the world complex” but this ended up being more complex.

Before leaving I felt like I had no purpose and that my life would be better served helping those in need somewhere else. Peace Corps seemed like the perfect opportunity to be a leader, get out of my stuck circumstances, continue self-reliance, be more assertive, and to learn how to balance the challenge of helping others. All of which I did learn in unexpected ways.

Little did I know those good intentions are not always applicable. Our expectations of how things are supposed to pan out due to training and hopes often stand in the way of how things actually are. What we deem as helpful can sometimes be just as harmful.

Change is often small and undetectable. If one wants results helping a third world country as a lone volunteer, the search may be tiring and disheartening. The simple exchange of words at the market more impactful than interviewing village heads about the work that was needed in the community.

Small connections that broke the barrier of assumptions became the most important parts of my chunk of time in Malawi. If I did anything, I hope it was that I eased some generalization and deteriorated some of my preset interpretations. I tried to constantly remind my students and the people I worked with of the things that unite us versus the things that are not the same.

One of the most meaningful gifts we can give others is the opportunity for them to find the answers themselves. Peace Corps prides themselves on capacity building and using the people and resources available to create change. Theories are often good in theory but we face challenges when putting these theories into practice. The unlikelihood of sustainability and the realistic shortcomings that evolve from being an outsider trying to bring together insiders take their toll.

From contrasting and often conflicting beliefs and cultural norms to the necessary dependency on outside sources and people for survival, a volunteer can only do so much. When there is not enough for people to survive without more development, infrastructure, and overall tools for well-being it is difficult to shift a society by filling a job title and becoming a strange sort of idol just from showing up. No matter what one does, money, habits, language, physical differences, and cultural barriers are major separations and topics of concern.

Any form of comparison, wealth, skin color, education, material goods, religion, food, what we deem better or worse all giant contributors to discontent no matter what part of the world one is in. Just by being seen as a white American I was turned into this representation of “more” or “other”.  No matter where I went or how many people I introduced myself to, I was still, “azungu,” and not Madi. My Malawian coworkers still called me this after asking others not to. Even if there was no malicious intent behind this friendly exclamation, there is the habit of categorizing a person into a concept versus a human, something we all are capable of doing.

Being a minority in any circumstance brings out a lot of ugly as well as strength. I ended up feeling shame and guilt for what I had accumulated and deemed meaningful, turning the mirror back on myself. All great change starts with realizing where our perspectives may need to shift.

The true focus of revolutionary change is never merely the oppressive situations which we seek to escape, but that piece of the oppressor which is planted deep within each of us.  ~Audre Lorde

What seems like very little to us in America is a tremendous amount to many in Malawi. Even while trying to conceal and blend in, our presence as volunteers was a constant reminder to those around us of what they were not and what they did not have. I am not saying that having or being more is not possible for those I served, it is more than possible, but the comparison is what makes trying to survive even more painful.

In America, we have so many choices, and we get bogged down on what is the “best”. We forget we are enough as we are because there is so much we could be, have, eat, or do. There are limitless possibilities, which can cause many anxieties and inadequacies. Then we go somewhere like Malawi, where there are often only a few choices, and as volunteers, we bring more choices in. The same pain of a “better” way stops all of us from experiencing the full joy of the way things are. Progress is necessary, and complacency is not the goal, but the comparison is crippling.

An unnatural power dynamic appears based on an unwanted image of privilege and wasn’t something I wanted to represent. Many people continuously asked me for money and could not grasp that we were there to create connections and not provide incentive. Conditioned relationships often become a major part of survival. Explaining unconditioned love, difficult.

In order to help a struggling society, there is the obstacle of money, the judging of differences versus finding similarities, and resources. The only way to deter these views was through my words, thoughts, and actions; though perspectives are often stuck in others and I can only control my own. Some of my perspectives difficult to alter when trying to accept differing cultural norms such as abuse of the disabled, women’s oppression, harmful superstition, malnourished/neglected children, domestic violence and animal cruelty.

I found myself looking at the bigger picture when starting to feel like I was not part of a greater solution. My living situation became unsafe and I had to make a choice of either accepting what was against my own values or to stay and do something I might not have been meant to do. I choose what to believe, do, see and hear. We can all change these beliefs or values at any time, but we have to decide which ones to hold on to or let go of. Beliefs either being our greatest barriers against love or what tears all of the barriers down. There is plenty of love and service to give no matter the location. We don’t need some grand purpose to matter to others, we just need to be a part of other’s lives.

Going to Malawi was a strong reminder that I am only a witness, capable of planting seeds that others can choose to water or nourish on their own. The fact that I have the freedom to choose which values I want to accept and which path is right for me, is a gift others may not discover in this lifetime.

Living my life and enjoying the people and opportunities I’ve been given is a way of honoring those who would love to be able to do the same. There is so much I have no control over other than the way I approach my life, and in turn that is how I affect other’s lives. My mistakes and lessons are mine to grow from, and maybe another can benefit from those lessons as well.

What seemed like problems to me before appears trivial now. Everything we do and think only a part of our growth at the time, as long as we always do the best we can and don’t harm ourselves or others along the way. Sometimes our best isn’t tremendous, but it’s enough as long as we continue to learn.

One of the most valuable lessons I was taught by being in Malawi is to appreciate every second. There was a joy to be found in the effort. When one must work for one’s needs, there is more gratitude for what one has. From carrying water and boiling it, being isolated in a place where you can only show parts of your identity, standing in a bucket to bathe, not having a healthy functioning digestive tract, constantly facing rejection, I will take much less for granted. Nor does rejection, confrontation, being misunderstood, or living outside of my comfort zone seem as scary anymore.

I’m not meant to save the world, I’m only supposed to be a part of it. Each interaction counts, and sometimes just interacting is the best way to be of service. We can stop seeking purpose but instead live with purpose.

The Time Is Now

Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity. ~William Shakespeare

The older I become the more time seems relative. When flying on an airplane from one country to another the days and nights smash together. In different places or states of mind, time seems faster or slower.

Some moments seem to stop time in its tracks, while other experiences drag time out for what feels like forever. From the hustle and bustle of deadlines to lazy Sunday mornings, circumstances alter time into oblivion or time becomes of the utmost importance.

Some places determine time by the sound of the roosters and the position of the sun in the sky. Other places wake to the cries of alarms and the internal ticking of timetables.

Time is a grand illusion that organizes our lives. How we use this concept of time alters the meaning of our days. Time eludes us or is a prelude. Each moment either slips from our grasp or begins something new.

The best thing about the time we are given is that we get to decide how to use it or how to lose it.

 

 

 

About Bigger Picture Yoga

Living a Life of Yoga

What does Bigger Picture Yoga do? Bigger Picture Yoga talks about everyday life and relates it to yoga. The owner could be described as a yogini, writer, short filmmaker, photo taker, personal trainer, world explorer, nature lover, lifelong student, teacher, artist, and human being in progress. This site is a platform to share her findings with you.